Red Cross warns of impending emergency in North Country due to drop in blood donations
Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 6:10 pm

The American Red Cross is facing a looming blood shortage in the North Country, and there is an urgent need for donors of all blood types.

The chief of the Red Cross New York-Penn Blood Services Region, which includes St. Lawrence County, said donations through the Red Cross are down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in many fewer donations than expected. The number of donors continues to decline, and the shortfall is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency situation in the coming weeks.

In addition, Red Cross regional blood services CEO Kay Schwartz said, the Independence Day holiday falling on Friday reduced the number of blood drives scheduled in early July. Many sponsors did not host drives because people took vacations either over the long weekend or for the entire week. About 20 percent fewer blood drives took place that week.

New York State Troopers are sponsoring a blood drive Tuesday, July 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Canton Fire Station II, 77 Riverside Dr.

If you can’t contribute right away, the Red Cross has blood drives scheduled, in Massena, Canton, Gouverneur and Potsdam, in August:

• 8/11/14, 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM, VFW Massena, 101 W. Hatfield St., Massena, NY 13662

• 8/12/14, 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Unitarian Universalist Church, 3 1/2 East Main St, Canton, NY 13617

• 8/12/14, 12:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Gouverneur Veterans of Foreign Wars, 100 W Main St, Gouverneur, NY 13642

• 8/13/14, 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Gouverneur Hospital, 77 West Barney Street, Gouverneur, NY 13642

• 8/14/14, 11:30 AM - 4:30 PM, Potsdam Town Office, 18 Elm St., Potsdam, NY 13676

• 8/15/14, 10:30 AM - 3:30 PM, Canton Potsdam Hospital, 50 Leroy St, Potsdam, NY 13676

“Hospital patients continue to need lifesaving blood this summer, and they’re relying on the generosity of volunteer donors to give them hope in the days and weeks ahead,” said Schwartz.

“Please, consider giving the gift of life. Each day donations come up short, less blood is available for patients in need – and you never know when it could be your loved one needing blood.”

Eligible donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed at this time. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.

There is also an urgent need for platelet donations. Platelets – a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, burn victims and bone marrow recipients – must be transfused within five days of donation, so it’s important to have a steady supply of platelets on hand.

The summer can be among the most challenging times of the year for blood and platelet donations as regular donors delay giving while they take vacations and participate in summer activities. When school is out of session for summer break, donations from those who normally give on campus tend to drop by more than 80 percent.

Outside of regularly scheduled drives, Schwartz said arrangements for a blood donation can be made by calling (800) RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license, or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.